Senior Rhetoric and Composition

Pursuing the ideal of the ‘Good Man Speaking Well’, it has come to this:  we will hear from you!

 

Senior Thesis:

At the culmination of your career at Classical School of Wichita you will prepare, present, and defend a thesis.

The Paper:

The paper serves as the focus of your opinion, thought and research, available for your peers and reviewers.   It will take the form of the persuasive essay, and include proofs, demonstrations and references.   The format of citations and bibliography will adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style.

The Presentation:

The presentation of your thesis will be in the form of a speech- epidiectic, forensic, or political.  This speech will consist of a defense of the thesis presented in your paper.   The graduating senior is expected to defend the thesis in a presentation that exemplifies the canon of rhetoric, and displays an inventive process considering the situation of the speaker in front of the audience in attendance, and lays out the argument in a manner appropriate to the topic and its persuasive opportunities.

The Defense:

A panel of examiners will be selected to challenge your speech, either in its stand on events, your choice of terms, or your conclusions.  You will engage in a dialectical examination and affirmation of your chosen position.

“non quæretur a nobis quid legimus, sed quid fecimus”  -Thomas A Kempis

In assembling and composing your work, you will be following the Chicago Manual of Style in order to produce a research paper.

Your conclusions will be presented to your school, parents, visitors, and a selected panel.   Consider this a persuasive speech, and compose it following the Canon of Rhetoric. 

Defending your position, you will employ the  dialectic as you reply to the panel.

The Three Part Schedule

The class is a writer’s colloquium, where we will present ‘milestones’ in a production schedule and critique each other’s work.

The Paper: Its Schedule

The paper serves as the focus of your opinion, thought and research, available for your peers and reviewers.   It will take the form of the persuasive essay, and include proofs, demonstrations and references.   The format of citations and bibliography will adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style.

As opposed to Research Papers (which you will complete as separate assignments throughout the class), the persuasive essay is a format that features Rhetoric front and center. Because of this, special considerations over strict academic writing apply.

The paper must be interesting. Metaphors, outright analogy, and enthymemes are highly persuasive methods of argumentation. Poetic devices such as alliteration, parallel structure, chiasmus, and other examples from classical literature will aid the impact of the paper.

The paper must be clear. Avoiding circuitous language, being direct and active need not be boring. Choose active verbs. Make sure a subject is doing something. Do not use tired metaphors (such as ‘toeing the line’) or weak verbs of action (he went ‘ha’). Avoid the mistaken concrete (“they” are ruining the nation). Know where you are going, and bring us there without meaningless preamble and mixed metaphor. You should feel free to consult Strunk and White and english style manuals. Whether you emulate Tacitus or Cicero, do it boldly and purposefully.

The Presentation: Its Schedule

The presentation of your thesis will be in the form of a speech- epidiectic, forensic, or political.  This speech will consist of a defense of the thesis presented in your paper.   The graduating senior is expected to defend the thesis in a presentation that exemplifies the canon of rhetoric, and displays an inventive process considering the situation of the speaker in front of the audience in attendance, and lays out the argument in a manner appropriate to the topic and its persuasive opportunities. The Presentation is not expected to be a mere reading of the paper, but exists explicitly for speech and persuasion.

Throughout the class you will have time to prepare and present rhetoric to the class. The particulars of your argument, the veracity and significance of your sources, the worthiness of your authors and even the viewpoints of your peers all serve as material for persuasion. These presentations will give you a check on the effectiveness of your position and style as you move toward completion of the overall project. Here you may experiment with the inventive modes of Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos will be regarded normally as situated or assumed ethos. Your natural authority due to who you are, your reputation and your expertise will effect those who listen to you when you speak of various subjects. You may also take steps to buttress or augment your Ethos through a variety of strategies, some of which involve deprecating opponents (careful of Ethics here).

By the conscious employment of Pathos and Pathetic argument in your invention, you may appeal to the sympathies of your audience. In this pursuit, it is important to understand the nature of people, the type of people you will speak to, and the actual people you plan on speaking to.

The Defense: Its Schedule

At the completion of your work and following your presentation, a panel of examiners will be selected to challenge your speech, either in its stand on events, your choice of terms, or your conclusions.  You will engage in a dialectical examination and affirmation of your chosen position.

In the course of the class, the student will participate in a series of dialectical discussions. These discussions feature logical discourse driven by questions. In practice, the participants avoid disputatiousness (trying to ‘win’ points by any means), and contentiousness (arguing for argument’s sake). In disagreement, we may not offer an objection without reasons for the objection. These reasons usually concern points in which the rhetor is mistaken, points in which the rhetor is misinformed, or points in which the rhetor could benefit by a fuller understanding of the point being discussed.

The course of dialectical discussion may range over the five common topics of definition of terms, comparison (analogies, metaphors), circumstances, relationship of ideas in the logical sense, or the testimony of authorities and other authors on the topic at hand. The structure of debate is simply concerned with terms, propositions of truth, and conclusions drawn from these relationships.

Data compiled in statistical proofs is subject to examination concerning sample and scientific controls as well as adherence to inductive method, after a discussion of the source. Demonstrations of logical necessity will be evaluated by terms, propositions and conclusions. In general, the inductive and deductive methods of inquiry will be complimentary.

By the use of the dialectical method, students will aid each other as a writer’s support group in all phases of preparation. Participation will be graded by the attached rubric(s) commonly used throughout the Classical School of Wichita for the pursuance of Harkness style discussions. The schedule of discussion is matched to work in writing and presentation.